America’s Oil and Natural Gas Boom Continues To Reshape Foreign Policy

March 15, 2019 by HJ Mai

For decades, U.S. presidents have pursued energy policies aimed at reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. The first commander in chief to achieve the goal of energy independence could be President Donald Trump, with the United States expected to become a net energy exporter next year. But in typical Trump fashion, that’s not enough. The new goal: energy dominance.

Spurred by America’s continuing oil and natural gas boom, the Trump administration is promoting the export of U.S. energy products all over the world, and along with it the country’s values and worldview. When the White House rolled out its new energy policy in June 2017, officials reiterated America’s need to become self-reliant.

“[An energy dominant America] means a secure nation, free from the geopolitical turmoil of other nations who seek to use energy as an economic weapon,” U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in 2017.

It’s a stance that can be traced across all administrations starting with President Richard Nixon during the Arab oil embargo in 1973. The main difference, however, is the focus of exporting energy and influence.

“An energy dominant America will export to markets around the world, increasing our global leadership and our influence,” Perry said.

The administration’s efforts have prompted billions of dollars in investments. Last month, Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil announced that they are investing in a $10 billion project to expand a liquified natural gas (LNG) export plant in Texas.

When Jean-Claude Junker, the president of the European Commission, traveled to Washington, D.C. last year in an attempt to ease trade tensions between the U.S. and the EU, he promised Trump that Europe would build more terminals to import LNG from the United States.

While it remains to be seen whether the EU will keep its promise, America’s energy boom has already had an impact on foreign policy.

“Policymakers from the State Department and other groups are much more outspoken these days about the leverage that they gain, or think they gain because of the rise of oil and gas production in the country,” Tim Boersma, a senior research scholar and director of global natural gas markets at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, told The Well News.

While speaking to high level executives of the world’s largest energy companies and oil ministers in Houston on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that America’s newfound shale and natural gas abundance would “strengthen our hand in foreign policy.”

As America’s dependency on foreign oil decreased, so did oil’s importance on foreign policy, Henry Nau, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, told The Well News.

Over the past several months, the U.S. has imposed strict sanctions on two of the world’s largest oil producers, Venezuela and Iran. Gone are the days when global oil prices dictated foreign U.S. engagement.

Despite the ongoing political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, which has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, the crude oil price has remained fairly consistent since November, ranging between $50 and $70 per barrel.

However, neither the state department nor the White House are in business of selling America’s fossil fuel resources, that’s up to markets and market actors.

“There can be a bit of a gap between on the one hand the rhetoric and on the other hand the actual influence that policymakers have on trade, which can be more somewhat more limited,” Boersma said.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the U.S. is trying to loosen Russia’s grip on Europe. Moscow is currently the largest exporter of oil and natural gas to the EU. Washington has publicly stated its opposition to the Russian NordStream 2 pipeline project and is still considering imposing sanctions to stop its construction.

“We don’t want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the NordStream 2 project, any more than we ourselves want to be dependent on Venezuelan oil supplies,” Pompeo said.

The administration’s opposition of NordStream 2 is in line with its demand that allies should increase their defense spending, Nau said.

“Why should the U.S. protect Europe and station troops on the border with Russia, if its allies increase their dependency on Russian gas?” Nau asked.

America’s shale oil boom is barely 10 years old, and while nobody knows exactly how long it will last, it has and will shape U.S. foreign policy as long as the world economy depends on fossil fuels.

Nau, who served on President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council, said: “Nobody should make the mistake and think oil is not important anymore, but it is less important than it used to be.”

Energy

Renewable Energy Surpasses Coal As Source of US Energy, Researchers Say Climate
Renewable Energy Surpasses Coal As Source of US Energy, Researchers Say
May 16, 2019
by Dan McCue

For the first time in history, renewable energy surpassed coal earlier this month as a source of electricity generation in the United States, the Brookings Institution reported Wednesday. The paper underlying the report attributes this remarkable development to U.S. municipalities and businesses striving to fill the... Read More

House Panel Criticizes Trump for Climate Change Policies That Harm Public Lands Environment
House Panel Criticizes Trump for Climate Change Policies That Harm Public Lands
May 16, 2019
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON - Democratic members of Congress said Wednesday that environmental policies of the Trump administration are threatening the nation’s outdoor recreation industry. During two House Natural Resources Committee hearings, a Trump administration official defended the Interior Department’s record, but environmentalists warned of severe consequences. Some of... Read More

Blue Dogs to Play Key Role on House Rural Broadband Task Force Infrastructure
Blue Dogs to Play Key Role on House Rural Broadband Task Force
May 15, 2019
by Dan McCue

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., has launched a new House Task Force on Rural Broadband to provide coordination and leadership to end the rural-digital divide. The Task Force will work to advance solutions to ensure all Americans have access to high-speed internet by 2025. Several... Read More

New York on Track to End Coal-Fired Power Plant Emissions by 2020 Environment
New York on Track to End Coal-Fired Power Plant Emissions by 2020
May 13, 2019
by Dan McCue

New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation last week adopted the final elements of a regulatory regime intended to end carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants in the state by the end of 2020. Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo first announced the phase out in 2016, and... Read More

South Carolina Senate Passes Energy Freedom Act in Bipartisan Vote Energy
South Carolina Senate Passes Energy Freedom Act in Bipartisan Vote
May 10, 2019
by Dan McCue

The South Carolina State Senate Thursday unanimously passed The Energy Freedom Act, a comprehensive solar bill that will lift the state's 2 percent cap on net metering, among other solar-related actions. The state House is expected to take up the measure early next week. The compromise... Read More

Oregon Denies Permit to Controversial Natural Gas Project Energy
Oregon Denies Permit to Controversial Natural Gas Project
May 7, 2019
by Dan McCue

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality denied a key permit Monday to a controversial liquefied natural gas export terminal and its feeder pipeline, a move that cheered project opponents who argued the Trump administration is moving too fast when it comes to green-lighting fossil fuel-related facilities.... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top